Shack Chat is back once again, our weekly feature each Friday where we’ll ask the Shacknews staff to give their opinion on a particular topic, then open the floor to our dedicated Chatty community to provide a diverse mixture of thoughts on the subject. It’s a great way for us to get to know one another better while inspiring healthy debates with all of you passionate gamers out there.
Question: What are your favorite video game Easter eggs?
Doomguy in Duke3D.exe – Asif Khan, One Doomed Space Marine
One of my favorite easter eggs in a video game is definitely the space marine from Doom appearing in Duke Nukem 3D. Duke gives a nod to his fallen compatriot with the phrase, “that’s one doomed space marine.” These were simpler times in gaming when studios could give each other props without fear of copyright takedowns. Duke Nukem 3D was inspired by a lot of the work done by id Software on the Doom franchise, and it was great to see them honor Doomguy in their game.
Metal Gear Solid 5 Birthday Scene – Brittany Vincent, Senior Editor
I couldn’t even begin to tell you what my favorite gaming Easter egg is because there are far too many that I’ve seen over the years. One of my favorites that I can remember most recently, however, is Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain’s birthday scene. Given that May is my birthday month, I like to return to this fun scene when I can – and it’s coming up soon! If you play the game on your birthday, Big Boss will receive a message to return to Mother Base. When you get there, you get an adorable birthday scene where Kaz, Ocelot, and some of the other Diamond Dogs will sing a special happy birthday song and offer him a cake and cigar. It’s probably one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen.
The Metal Gear Solid CODECs in Super Smash Bros. Brawl – Ozzie Mejia, Senior Editor
When Super Smash Bros. Brawl released over 10 years ago, one of its biggest draws was the addition of Solid Snake, one of the series’ first third-party video game characters to join the playable roster. Snake brought along his full arsenal, a few Assist Trophy helpers, the Metal Gear Solid soundtrack, and a unique stage. But it wouldn’t be Metal Gear Solid without a CODEC conversation, so Brawl gave players a chance to witness a few of those, too.
Hitting the down button on the control pad repeatedly on the Shadow Moses Island stage opened up a special CODEC with Snake and his supporting cast, who would brief him on his opposition. There were files on everybody, from Mario all the way down to Mr. Game & Watch. As a bonus, if Snake was defeated in mid-CODEC, the character on the end would yell “SNAAAAAAAAAAAKE!”
It was such a fun feature that Nintendo brought it back for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, albeit copy and pasted from Brawl. Those hoping for new CODECs will be disappointed.
Zombie Screams in Half Life 2 – Josh Hawkins, Some guy
I can’t really say that I’ve ever thought about what my favorite video game Easter egg might be. There have been a lot of really good Easter eggs hidden throughout video games over the past decade, and even back into the earlier days of gaming. But, if I had to choose one that still stands out, I’d have to go with a small Easter egg hidden in Half Life 2.
If you’ve never played Valve’s hit sci-fi series, then you’re missing out. Throughout Gordon Freeman’s journey, players can come across various enemies, including zombies, which are people who have been attacked by Headcrabs, an alien lifeform very similar to the face huggers seen in the Alien universe. While these enemies are already creepy enough thanks to their distinguished and often gory looks, the screams that they emit still send chills down my spine, especially when you know the message behind them.
If played out backwards, the screams turn into cries for help, with the zombiefied people screaming out something along the lines of “God help! Help me!” It’s a message that really makes you question whether or not the people inside are still alive to some degree, and it’s definitely chilling to hear as they run at you. Are they really trying to murder you? Or do they just want help? I guess we’ll never really know.
NBA Jam’s Hidden Roster – Blake Morse, Boomshaklaka Baby!
While some would argue that Madden is the most iconic sports game out there, I think that NBA Jam is probably the most iconic to gamers who were never into the sport to begin with. This arcade-style 2-on-2 basketball game took the world by storm in the mid-90s not only because it was fun, but it bled style. The game allowed you to enter in secret codes during the loading screens before games that could unlock things like unlimited turbo or big-head mode. But the real secret menu was in the game’s roster.
Players could put in certain combinations of names and birthdates that would unlock a cavalcade of characters as well as a number of NBA All-Stars. You could have Scorpion from Mortal Kombat dunk on Shaq in the Tournament edition! When the game came to home consoles, like the SNES version I got as a kid, these hidden rosters just expanded with all sorts of icons of the time. We’re talking the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, President Clinton and VP Al Gore, Chicago’s own Benny the Bull, and the dogfather of P-Funk himself George Clinton. The tradition of having a hidden roster of characters has carried on into each iteration of the series beyond the 16-bit era as well.
I think my favorite hidden characters of all time are probably Ad-Rock, MCA and Mike D of the Beastie Boys. I’m a such a big fan of their music and it was just a big surprise to them thrown in the mix. Now I’m just hoping NBA Jam will make its way to the Switch in some form or another with a Smash Bros mentality towards unlockable characters.
Megalodon in Battlefield 4 – Bill Lavoy, Managing Editor
My favorite Easter egg in a game has to be the Megalodon in Battlefield 4. What makes it so memorable for me was how obsessed the community was with finding the giant shark. Turns out it wasn’t in the game through most of the hunt for it, but DICE eventually added it in. I guess this was a payoff for the dedication the community showed to finding something that wasn’t in the game.
There’s also a smaller Easter egg in Fallout 4 that I’ve always enjoyed. There’s a bar players can find in Boston that is a nod to the television show Cheers. I think this one stood out to me the most because I found it on my own. I wasn’t the first to find it by any stretch, but I didn’t read about it in a guide or article and spoil the discovery, as tends to be the case with most Easter eggs.
Halo et al – Sam Chandler, Grossly Incandescent
There is no physical way for me to claim one Easter Egg is my favorite over another, but what I can do is point to a body of work and state that they, unequivocally, have the best Easter Eggs in the industry. Bungie’s Halo series contains the greatest Easter Eggs.
From Halo: Combat Evolved all the way to Halo: Reach, Bungie was able to stuff so many scrumptious Easter Eggs into their beloved games. Single player missions contained secrets, the menus had secrets, there were secrets in multiplayer maps. But just because there were so many didn’t make them easy to find or understand.
But to point at one that best represents the Halo Easter Eggs is tough. However, the Megg has got to be up there. Hidden in the first level of Halo: Combat Evolved (Pillar of Autumn) by Jaime Griesemer is a heart made of blood splatter with an “M” written in bullet holes. It’s a beautiful love letter to his girlfriend Meg.
To actually see this Easter Egg, players would need to complete an elaborate series of steps which included jumping onto specific objects in the world, picking up a certain weapon, killing an enemy, and then surviving against invincible marines as they hunt you down. If you managed to reach the room without dying, you’d get to see the bloody love message on the roof. How sweet.
Mortal Kombat: Blood Code – David L. Craddock, Longreads Editor
My favorite video game Easter egg almost tore a friendship asunder. During the great 16-bit console war, my friend had a Genesis, and I had a SNES. I was sitting pretty: Super Mario World, Zelda: A Link to the Past, and the creme de le creme, the first version of Street Fighter II on consoles.
Then Acclaim began beating a drum for Mortal Monday: September 13, 1993, the day MK would bust heads and tear out spinal cords on Game Boy, Game Gear, SNES, and Genesis. My friend went Genesis, and I, of course, played on Super NES. I believed my version to be superior. The controls were a tad laggy, and there was no blood, but the graphics were pristine, and the Genesis version contained no blood or gory fatalities either–or so I believed, until editors at a gaming magazine–maybe GamePro–divulged the blood code. Tapping A, B, A, C, A, B, B on Genesis poured buckets of blood and gory fatalities back into the game.
I didn’t believe in the blood code until I went over to my friend’s and saw it with his own eyes. Playing against him, I remember burning with envy. The graphics weren’t as sharp on Genesis, but the blood code brought it that much closer to the arcade experience.
I got the last laugh with MK2, though.
The Empire Strikes Back Easter egg in Skyrim – Donovan Erskine, Intern
My favorite video game Easter egg comes From a cross between two of my favorite media franchises: Star Wars and The Elder Scrolls. Being as influential as it is, the Star Wars movies have been referenced across a countless number of other movies, shows, and games, but the nod it receives in Skyrim stands above all of them.
In Bleakcoast cave, you can find a human skeleton hanging upside down in the ice. Nearby players can find an “Iron greatsword of sparks.” This is in reference to 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, where we see Luke Skywalker suspended from the ceiling of a Wampa cave. He then uses the force to pull his lightsaber from the snow below to free himself and defeat the beast. It’s a neat Easter egg that some may not give a second look, but evokes feelings of wonder and nostalgia in Star Wars fans.